What is Unconscious Bias?

Our brains group people based on things we know or assume about them, like age, gender, skin colour, income, ability or education. Our brains use these groupings to make judgements without us even knowing it. This is called unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias is not right. It’s not wrong. It just is! But, if we don’t intentionally identify our unconscious bias, we run the risk that our biases impact our decision making, which could lead to unfairness against groups of individuals and harm our pursuits to improve inclusion.

Some key features about unconscious biases:

  • Everyone has them
  • They can be activated within a fraction of a second
  • We can hold biases against our own group
  • We can hold biases that go against our stated beliefs
  • Biases are generally shared within social groups, though people also have biases favouring people who share their identities
  • Biases are persistent, but can be changed with attention and work